FSII urges adoption of hybrid rice to increase rice productivity
Sep. 11, 2019
Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized a seminar on 'Seed Technology Innovation for Sustainable Rice Production' in New Delhi on Sep 10th, 2019.
The objective of the seminar was to discuss ways to enhance rice productivity sustainably and improve farmers' profitability in India. Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer's Welfare, Kailash Choudhary was present at the event.
Other eminent guests present at the event were Dr Prem Kumar, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Bihar, Dr SK Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, Government of India and VK Gaur, Chairman and Managing Director, National Seed Corporation. Other participants at the event were senior government officials, farmer organizations scientists and industry representatives.
Rice is one of the primary crops of India and is therefore critical to increase its productivity. Among the rice-growing countries in the world, India has the largest area under paddy - 43.86 million hectares and ranks second by producing 163 MT (million tonnes) just next to China which holds the first position and produces 203 MT.
In India, up to 25 per cent of yield losses in rice crop are due to the disease and insect pest infestation. Further, low planting density, poor agronomic practices, and weed management, low seed replacement rate etc are also leading to low rice productivity.
The major challenge is however posed by its production; one kg of rice requires 2000-3000 litres of water. Therefore, average water inputs for India's rice production of 163 MT stands at 327 thousand billion litres. Since 90 per cent of the cultivated land in India belongs to marginal, small and medium farmers, it is essential for the country to make effective technologies and processes available to them.
Deliberations at the seminar brought forward the need for long-term research investments in bringing more productive hybrids with improved grain characters, strengthen seed production systems by geographic diversification and take up more intensive promotion of hybrid in new areas through PPP mode. Further, the State Government's support is also essential to increase acreage under hybrid rice in all states.
"Government is always thinking about finding ways to increase the income of farmers, as they do not get the requisite timely profits due to multiple issues. Farmer awareness regarding new technology and techniques is essential to realize the benefits in this sector. We also need to work together to change the perception of the farming profession. Farming needs to be branded in a way that more youngsters are interested in taking up agriculture as a profession", said Kailash Choudhary.
"Growing rice is very expensive in India and we have not been able to reach our full potential due to several limitations. Support through policies will facilitate the adoption of technologies and sustainable practices to achieve our goal of doubling farmer's income", said Dr M Ramasami, Chairman, FSII.
"Hybrid rice is one of the most feasible and practically adaptable approaches for the farmers as it gives 20-35 per cent additional yield and is environmentally sustainable. It requires less water and nitrogen as they grow in short duration, are stress-tolerant and are better adapted in rainfed conditions. Hybrids have been key in increasing productivity of maize and cotton in India but not in rice so far", said Ram Kaundinya, Director General, FSII.
"Technologies like Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) also hold tremendous benefits. It can cultivate rice in a sustainable manner by reducing water inputs, labour costs and can increase yields. For example, farmers use on an average 50 litres/acre of diesel for transplanting rice in the northern region. DSR gives an opportunity to save approximately 15 litres/ha of diesel consumption by eliminating puddling operations in the northern region alone", said Dr Shivendra Bajaj, Executive Director, FSII.
India's agricultural exports have increased from Rs 2,15,396 crores in 2015-16 to Rs 2,50,273 crores in the financial year 2017-18 registering a growth of nearly 16.19 per cent. This success can be primarily attributed to the higher exports of rice (both basmati and non-basmati) followed by raw cotton, oil meals, castor oil, etc. To surpass these records while growing rice sustainably, farmers will have to adopt and given access to new technologies and advancements in the field.
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